Spinner Poonam Yadav stuns defending Champions Australia who slump to shock defeat in opening game of T20 Cricket World Cup

Poonam Yadav celebrates on the way to India's victory (Twitter: @t20WorldCup)
Poonam Yadav celebrates on the way to India's victory (Twitter: @t20WorldCup)
11:50am, Fri 21 Feb 2020
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The stage was set for a blockbuster opening game between Australia and India in the ICC Women's T20 World Cup but all did not go to plan for the defending champions after a sensational bowling performance by India's Poonam Yadav.

Leg-spinner Yadav turned the game on its head taking 4-19 from her four overs and Australia were found wanting despite a gritty performance from Ash Gardener almost edging them over the line.

It was too much even for the ever-relaxed Gardener and Australia couldn't manage the 21 required from the final over leaving India to celebrate at full volume.

After a modest start, India's 16-year-old superstar Shafali Verma, showed no signs of nerves, launching the first six of the tournament on her way to a rapid 29 from 24 before falling to Australia's golden girl Ellyse Perry

Some quick wickets and economic bowling from Jess Jonassen curbed them to 132-4 from their 20 overs, helped greatly by a steely unbeaten 49 from Deepti Sharma.

Australia, whose batting line up is almost as long as Bob Willis' bowling approach, came into bat exuding confidence but, despite the overwhelming home support they could not harness this energy to combat Poonam's brilliance.

Alyssa Healy re-discovered some form before eventually falling caught and bowled to Poonam.

The Indian bowler started poorly with a horrendous full toss that Healy took advantage of, but having been lulled into a false sense of security, fell to the next ball of the over.

This was the first of Poonam's glittering day as she then went to find herself on a hat-trick on the way to her stunning figures and claimed the final Australian wicket of the day with the run out of Molly Strano.

Ashleigh Gardener steered the Australian ship out of choppy waters and looked like she had done enough before being given out to Poonam as the woman of the moment claimed her fifth in the 18th over.

Or not!

Gardener remained on the field of play as the delivery was deemed a no ball for bouncing twice and she returned to the rescue mission. Could it be done? It seemed like it for a while but heading into the last two overs the home team required 27.

Aussie captain Meg Lanning finds herself not only a loss down but also 10 fingernails as she nervously chewed them as her team tried to scramble 27 from the last two overs.

The excitement wasn't over just yet and it was 21 needed from the last over with Strano and Gardener at the crease.

An ugly full toss from Shikha Pandey ballooned up in the air off the bat of the in-form player and Gardener had to make the long walk back to the pavilion with 20 needed off four and only one wicket in hand.

The Indian party was heating up in the crowd with the home team needing 19 off two and the nail was hammered into the coffin by Poonam as she claimed the run-out of Megan Schutt with one ball remaining in the innings.

After the game, Australia's Jess Jonassen said: "It's not the way we wanted to start the tournament, we lost too many wickets in clumps and didn't have an answer to Poonam Yadav." 

She praised the Indian spinner, adding: "She's got quite a good wrong 'un, we allowed her to settle and she made it really difficult for us to score. Unfortunately we didn't have an answer for an exceptional spell of bowling."

If this is anything to go by, we're going to have to hold on to our Aussie cork hats throughout the tournament as we head towards finals day on International Women's Day at the MCG.

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